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Rhino carnage - 9 rhinos killed in 1 day in KwaZulu-Natal; 4 killed in Eastern Cape and 3 in India

26/09/2012 16:50:08

Black rhino killed in iSimangaliso by poachers.

Will this only stop when there are no more rhinos left?
September 2012. Reports from South Africa have revealed a terrible day for rhino conservation in KwaZulu Natal. 8 white rhinos were killed at Hluhluwe/Umfolozi, the park where they were rediscovered in 1895 having been thought extinct. KwaZulu Natal has suffered much less than other parts of South Africa from the scourge of rhino poaching, until now. Additionally, a black rhino was killed at iSimangalo Wetland Park (see more below) and a further white rhino was deemed to have died of natural causes.

Dead rhinos spotted from the air
The dead white rhinos were first spotted by Ezemvelo's Bantom aerial surveillance plane before game scouts joined the search. Finally, the carcasses of seven poached white rhinos were found in the Ngqumeni area of the Hluhluwe section of KZN's Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP). One was a pregnant cow with her foetus dead. Another was a dead cow but Ezemvelo saved her infant and took it to the game capture bomas for protection. Two other poached rhinos were found in Ndumo Game Reserve and the black rhino at iSimangaliso Park.

Altogether nine rhinos were found poached whilst one other was found but it was ascertained it had died of natural causes. Ezemvelo recovered the horns from one of the poached rhino.

Investigation into bloodbath
Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife has called for an emergency meeting of all his senior staff to ascertain what were obvious shortcomings in the organisation's Project Rhino anti-rhino poaching strategy that was established in 2010.

"I want action; decisive action. I cannot stomach this. It's absolutely horrible to have such a bloodbath. I am going to investigate this and I can assure everyone I am going to get answers," he said.

Rhino carnage - More poaching

Eastern Cape 

On 25th September, 4 rhinos were killed in South Africa's Eastern Cape, at Lalibela Game Reserve, situated between Addo Elephant Park and Grahamstown. The rhinos were darted with tanquilisers before their horns were sawn off. 3 of the rhinos were dead when they were found the next morning, and the 4th was put down by a vet.


The scourge of rhino poaching is not just confined to Africa. At least three rare Asian one-horned rhinos have been poached in Kaziranga National Park, one of which had her horns cut off while still alive.

Ivory and rhino horns in Kenya

Additionally, more than 2 tonnes of ivory and five rhino horns have been seized by authorities in Kenya.

He did not rule out bringing in an independent criminal investigation audit: "But before I do that I am going to conduct my own research. But whatever is wrong I need to assure people from the bottom of my heart that our field staff is filled with people of huge dedication and passion. Make no mistake; this will have come as a huge great shock to them as well".

Most of the dead rhino at HiP had been poached about a week or so ago, while one had probably been dead for a month old: "Our staff is doing their work as best they can. After all in terms of scouting, I am only concerned about our not having spotted the one white rhino that had died a month ago".

Operation rhino
Part of his investigation, said Dr Mkhize, would be centred on his own organisations anti-rhino poaching initiative ‘Operation Rhino', begun in 2010. It was an urgent initiative to jointly co-ordinate all the activities amongst NGO's, conservation action groups and Ezemvelo itself to try to combat rhino poaching in the province.

"I could say to people that we are under-resourced and that our foe is highly sophisticated. However true, I won't accept this as an adequate explanation for this carnage. Project Rhino was established precisely to co-ordinate all the activities of interested parties. They meet once a month and yet this disaster suggests something is seriously amiss."

46 rhino killed in KZN in 2012
He had to understand that after all the money and resources Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has invested in this "battle" that he now counted some 46 rhino poached in KZN's state reserves this year alone: "It is more than ever before and there has to be explanations".

Clearly upset, Dr Mkhize said he would also look into the communication amongst all the anti-rhino poaching forces: "we have to act as a large family, all working towards a single focussed agenda. Perhaps some groups are working independently of each other".

He bemoaned the resources his organisation has thrown into the anti-rhino poaching campaign only for something like this to undermine his organisation's commitment to stopping it. Two months ago Dr Mkhize himself instructed that R2m would be earmarked from the R11.8m the organisation raised from their annual game auction specifically for anti-rhino poaching."I am so upset, actually. I have thrown every resource I possibly could into this war. I have made huge strides with the surrounding communities living on the boundaries of HiP in order to gain their support in this anti-rhino poaching campaign. For example I found sponsorship to organise that 100 children were selected from these communities and given a special conservation education. We organised a special sms campaign with a cell phone operator. We earmarked other resources for investigations and intelligence gathering; we helped a private helicopter company patrol HiP for some eight months; we are training special anti-rhino field staff..."

Black rhino at iSimangaliso

A black rhino has been killed at South Africa's iSimangaliso Wetland Park the second rhino poached in iSimangaliso in the last 24 months.

The carcass of an adult black rhino male was detected in the 66,000ha Ozabeni section of iSimangaliso, its horns had been stolen. iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo are deeply concerned about this particular incident, which will impact negatively on the rhino recently introduced into Ozabeni and the restoration of game populations.

Vital link to uMkhuze
The Ozabeni section of iSimangaliso is a vital link between the uMkhuze section of the Park and the coastal planes stretching all the way down to the Eastern Shores, Cape Vidal and St Lucia sections in the south. The game introductions will enable this section of the Park to increase its contribution to the regional economy, local jobs and community-based economic empowerment. The medium-term goal is to develop low impact environmentally-friendly accommodation and activities such as horseback safaris. The region is marked by poverty and tourism is the biggest employer.

R100,000 reward
"We are outraged" says Andrew Zaloumis the iSimangaliso CEO "and will leave no stone unturned to find the perpetrators of this shameful killing. Destroying endangered species is an ecological and economic crime. Not only are rhino part of our collective national heritage, the presence of wildlife is a vital resource for the country and region. In a region marked by poverty, tourism and conservation are the biggest employers on which families survival and paying school fees depend."

A reward of a R100 000 is offered to any person who provides information that results in the arrest and successful conviction of the culprits. If members of the public have any information, or see something suspicious please report these to Dave Robertson (Conservation Cluster Manager) on 0716833693 or iSimangaliso's emergency no. 0827977944.

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